He followed up my last blog post, Item 8: Be a Lady Who Lunches at Balboa Cafe, by making me this:
That's love, folks.
Visited on January 18, 2014
Balboa Cafe has been a San Francisco tradition since 1913. It is currently owned by Plumpjack Group, which is owned by former mayor/current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, whom Dave affectionally refers to as "the Hair." Part of the original "Marina Triangle" for nightlife, this restaurant is known for all sorts of things - solidly good food and wine, upscale clientele, and an animal indigenous to San Francisco, the Marina Cougar. According to Urban Dictionary, if I still lived in the Marina (except I was smart enough to call where I lived "Cow Hollow"), at 30 years old, I would officially be classified as a Marina Cougar and no longer a "Marina Girl." Ouch. (In all fairness, the official "cougar" Urban Dictionary page gives me another 5 years until I fit in this category. Thanks?)
I invited one of my fellow "Cougar" besties Kim to join me for lunch here last weekend in order to satisfy Bucket List Item #8. Unfortunately, because it was a weekend, they were serving brunch rather than lunch (SF really loves its brunches), so really Kim and I were "ladies who brunch." Close enough.
Because we are ladies who brunch in the Marina, we knew we had to order drinks, even though it was only 1 PM. I went with a classic ladies who lunch pick, a Sauvignon Blanc, and Kim went with a pink fruity mixed drink - we were off to a solid start. I then ordered the most Cougar-y brunch items I could find - a field greens salad and a plate of smoked salmon with crème fraîche and brioche (have you ever heard a description more appropriate for a lady who lunches?) Kim went a more traditionally Californian brunch route with huevos rancheros, recommended by our super nice waiter. While nothing was exactly life changing, I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ordered.
One of the best parts of brunch was the paper covered table clothes and accompanying crayons. While I don't have an artistic bone in my body, my fellow bruncher is a wonderful artist, and she went to work immediately.
Kim started off with an "I Left My Heart" heart motif, shown as a work in progress in the pic above, but she struck gold with a riff on the famous "I ♥ NY" logo, shown below. Do any of my designer friends want to actually make me this logo for my blog? It's pretty great.
She then elaborated by adding a Golden Gate Bridge to it. Aren't my friends talented? Pretty sure we strayed from "ladies who lunch" a bit by drawing with crayons, but it was definitely worth it.
The verdict: I wouldn't say this is a must-do or anything, but it was a nice brunch and I would definitely go back. They had an extensive cocktail list and a pretty classically upscale Californian menu. Apparently they are famous for the burger they serve on a baguette, so I wouldn't mind trying that too. All in all, thumbs up.
Visited on January 5, 2014
You guys. I pretty much found the best thing, ever, to do in San Francisco. Well, 7X7's "100 Things to Do Before You Die" List found me the best thing, ever, to do in San Francisco, but still. Whew. That's right. Little. Mermaid. SING-ALONG. Omg. I'll pause here while I wait for your head to finish exploding.
I knew that the Castro Theatre sometimes does sing-alongs, but the times I've checked before it was always something I wasn't terribly passionate about, like The Sound of Music, or R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet (which actually would be really amusing to witness), so I waited. And then. I happened to check the schedule the week after Christmas and discovered that one of my favorite Disney movies of ALL TIME with pretty much the best music of ALL TIME would be playing for a week. Omg.
Immediately upon learning of this, I invited a group of girlfriends to join me on this amazing adventure on opening night, a Sunday. (I hurt a few boys' feelings in the meantime. Next time, guys.) Understandably most of the friends who signed on were excited, but skeptical. Would this be lame? Are we too old to dress up like Ariel? Would we be the only adults there? The answer to all of the above was 100% NO.
Growing up a redhead was not easy. Most people think "exotic" but in reality you're mostly just treated as "weird." Traditionally, princesses are either blondes or brunettes. Enter Ariel, the most perfect princess of all time: REDHEAD. Six year old me couldn't have been more thrilled. Ariel singlehandedly put redheads back on the map. Little Mermaid Sing-Along? This must be fate.
I woke up Sunday morning hungover. That's putting it mildly - I was in a real world of hurt. Things did not get better as the day went on. Being a 30 year old mermaid singing her heart out wasn't exactly something that sounded terribly appealing to me, but I knew I had to work through it. I owed this to my blog readers - I owed this to myself.
They were not messing around for this event. Upon entering, we were handed goody bags. In those goody bags you found: a King Triton Crown, a plastic dinglehopper, bubbles, a glow stick on a strand of pearls (like Ariel's voice), and a celebratory popper for the wedding at the end.
Before the events even began, the energy in the large, sold out Theatre was palpable. Sure, there were a few kids there, but mostly it was adults like us who couldn't contain their excitement for the magic that was about to happen. My friends started proclaiming this the best bucket list item yet, and it hadn't even started. People were blowing bubbles, waving their glow sticks, and singing along with the famous organist, who warmed up the crowd with his rendition of Under the Sea.
After the organist finished, the emcees for the night introduced themselves - an Ariel (whose knowledge of the movie itself was pretty disgraceful, and she even called it "King Trident" at one point - despicable) and a dapper Prince Eric. The first order of business was to invite any children who dressed up to go up on stage, and they were introduced to the "aww" inspired crowd (seriously, those kids were freaking cute). They then held a costume contest for the adults. A lot of people were in costume (more than my half-hearted attempt using clothes already in my closet - needless to say, I did not participate in the contest); there were plenty of Ariels, a couple Sebastians, a French Chef (Louis), a Scuttle, a few Ursulas and a few Erics. They held a costume contest, and while I think drag-Ariel (pictured below) should have won, dates Sebastian and Louis took home the crown.
Before we began the movie itself, the emcees gave us some instructions for the Sing-Along: hiss every time you see Ursula's evil eel henchman, ooh and ahh every time Ariel has a wardrobe change, make loud kissy noises anytime you hope Ariel and Eric will kiss, and bark every time you see Max the dog, among other instructions. And, of course, sing your heart out with the songs, which conveniently had words on the screen, like karaoke, for those who are not as familiar with the movie as others.
I was lucky enough to sit next to Erica, who not only knows every single line of the movie and pretty much recited every word as we went along, but who is also just generally a hoot and kept exclaiming things that had our whole section of the Theatre in stitches. The whole experience was sort of like this - people yelling out funny things, glow sticks waving during songs or celebratory moments in the movie, and a chorus that was loudest during the songs but that held steady even during the non-musical dialogue. This was our childhood Mecca, and we had found it once again.
At the Castro Theatre, it is practically encouraged to sneak in booze, so despite the hangover, a few of us brought in little Sofia Blanc de Noir Champagne cans, as sort of an homage to juice boxes and being a kid. Next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time), we might have to go even bigger. I will plan better next time and make sure to not be hungover the day of.
I cannot express to you how much this whole event made me love San Francisco. I realized recently that one thing we love in this city is shared experiences. We love Fleet Week, because everyone is on a roof deck somewhere, and you can look across the city and see the other roof decks filled with people. We love when our sports teams make the playoffs or the World Series because everyone wears orange and black, or the city monuments light up in the team's colors, and when we win, the whole city goes out and parties. We love Halloween, and Santa Con, and Bay to Breakers, because they involve the whole community getting together to celebrate - and to party. Give us an excuse to celebrate, and SF, we're on it. So this wacky event, a Disney Sing-Along where you are encouraged to dress up, encouraged to sing at the top of your lungs, encouraged to sneak in alcohol - come on, where else in the world would something like this exist?
In most cities, you might expect this kind of event to be mostly composed of females. Not so in San Francisco - it was pretty much an even ratio. There were plenty of guys who accompanied their girlfriends here, but mostly there were groups of guys - sure, they were probably all "from the Castro" - who sang louder and knew the lines better than most of the crowd. And as I mentioned before, when I told Dave and another guy friend, Robby, it was a "girls only night" they both were incredibly disappointed. The good news is that all of the girls who came to this cannot wait to go again, and this time boys will be invited - we are keeping our fingers crossed for an Aladdin, a Beauty and the Beast, or a Lion King sing-along. And next time - I don't think it will be just me who dresses up.
The verdict? This is a San Francisco MUST DO. If you will always be a kid at heart, this event will just tickle you. I was really at my worst for this event, but I still had an amazing time. If you are a curmudgeon who doesn't like pure joy, maybe this isn't for you. But everybody else, please check the schedule and make sure you try this at least once.
This visit to the Castro also highlighted one of the reasons I am so glad I decided to embark on this bucket list adventure. I tend to get pretty stuck in my part of the city - mostly limited to North Beach, Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Financial District, and the Marina, and there are so many amazing neighborhoods in this city. I love the Castro, it is a beautiful and vibrant neighborhood, but it is a 20+ minute cab ride from my place in North Beach. My bucket list takes place all over the city, and I am so glad that it forces me out of my routine. Hopefully I have also inspired a few of my readers to do the same!
I grew up 30 miles from San Francisco, and I've now lived in the city for 10 years. I recently realized that although I am completely in love with this place, I still have so much left to see and explore! I have made a list of 100 places I would like to visit, and I invite you to join me on each trip through my blog!